If you’re like anyone who played Animal Crossing: New Horizons during the pandemic, you’re probably wishing you could rekindle that spark you had when the game launched in March 2020. Or, maybe you’re a newer player who’s just looking for some creative inspiration to get started on your island.
Either way, if you’re looking for ideas on what else you could possibly do for your paradise getaway in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you’ve come to the right place.
1. Come Up With a Theme For Your Island
As someone who’s been playing the game since its release, I’ve found that giving my island a theme definitely helps encourage me to log on every day.
This can be as simple as making your island a tropical getaway, with coconut trees and tiki torches scattered throughout various designated shops, or stops such as a tiki bar or sunbathing spot. Or, you can make things a little more challenging and make your island into a city landscape using custom patterns and industrial recipes. You can even use your villagers’ personalities to make your island theme stronger.
Here are a few potential ideas to get you started:
National Park or Cottagecore
Suggested features: pine trees, mushrooms, wooden or log bridges, waterfalls, stone tables and stools, wildflowers, outside furniture areas, stone or country fencing, sightseeing areas, campsites, log- or mush-themed recipes
Villagers who would fit this theme: Admiral, Anchovy, Apollo, Beau, Bones, Boomer, Camofrog, Deidre, Drake, Egbert, Ellie, Erik, Fang, Fauna, Filbert, Flo, Flurry, Gonzo, Grizzly, Kitty, Lobo, Maple, Murphy, Nate, Olive, Ozzie, Peaches, Peggy, Pippy, Rolf, Yuka
Suggested features: coconut trees, tiki torches, plumeria or hibiscus bushes, bamboo trees, waterfalls, beach chairs, surf boards, suspension bridges, lots of flowing rivers, rattan-related recipes
Villagers who would fit this theme: Annabelle, Annalise, Audie, Bangle, Bob, Boots, Bud, Canberra, Curly, Del, Faith, Flora, Gala, Goose, Julia, June, Keaton, Lyman, Mallary, Marina, O’Hare, Plucky, Rasher, Rod, Sandy, Sylvia, Tammi, Zucker
Zen or Japanese Garden
Suggested features: bamboo trees, zen fencing, cherry blossom-themed recipes, bonsai trees, zen pillows, outdoor bath, zen bridges, bamboo-themed recipes, imperial-related recipes, tea sets, garden lanterns, gong, floor seats
Villagers who would fit this theme: Ace, Annalisa, Astrid, Axel, Blanche, Chelsea, Chester, Chevre, Chow, Croque, Cyrano, Dobie, Dora, Drago, Flip, Genji, Greta, Hamphrey, Hopper, Kabuki, Marcel, Margie, Midge, Pekoe, Pinky, Rilla, Rory, Sasha, Samson, Scoot, Shino, Snooty, Spork, T-Bone, Tiansheng, Walt, Wart Jr., Zucker
Suggested features: tomatoes, sugarcane, carrots, potatoes, pumpkins, wheat, dark dirt path, silo, windmill, tractor, country fencing, spiky fencing, barbed wire fencing, fruit trees, stone well, wooden buckets, hay bed, wooden stool, farmhouse-style recipes
Villagers who would fit this theme: Agnes, Ava, Bea, Benedict, Bertha, Blaire, Bonbon, Bunnie, Carmen, Celia, Clyde, Deena, Eloise, Eunice, Felicity, Frett, Gabi, Graham, Henry, Huck, Jeremiah, Ketchup, Kody, Maggie, Melba, Molly, Pancetti, Pate, Poncho, Rosie, Shep, Sprinkle, Sydney, Twiggy
2. Optimize Your Small-Space Areas
Maybe you don’t want to change EVERYTHING about your island, so why not just fill in the spaces that feel awkwardly empty?
Lots of people forget that you can dress up the entrance to your island based on a variety of themes, or decorate the spaces by Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, the museum, or the campsite.
Here are some ideas on how to utilize small spaces without making things feel too crowded:
Implement a small shop-side cafe with a custom wood pattern, garden tables and chairs, and a foldout menu. Or, make a small sitting or waiting area complete with vending machines, park chairs, and some flowers sectioned off by a small piece of fence or shrub.
Make your campsite even more friendlier by adding string lights and lawn chairs, or family-friendly by adding the camp cookware kit and some musical instruments.
Your Island’s Entrance
Create a small welcome space for visiting friends or new villagers by adding a sitting area near the front of your island. This can be accomplished using the park benches with a streetlight accompanying it and some flowers, or a tree for shade.
3. Purge Your Island Villagers
I know what you’re thinking… HOW on Earth could I get rid of my favorite villagers, who have been with me since the very beginning?
Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to get rid of your favorites! While you don’t necessarily have the ability to choose who leaves your island in any particular order, you can villager-hunt for other favorites by planning a few Nook Miles ticket tours.
Or, if you’d prefer to make sure you get a villager you want, you can always use Amiibo cards. However, if you choose to use Amiibo, be sure you have them visit the campsite two times prior to asking them to move in. (This is a required step.). Otherwise, a different villager will move in before you’re able to get the desired Amiibo villager.
4. 100% the Game… Kind Of
This can be interpreted a multitude of ways depending on what you’re willing to consider “100% finishing” the game to be—and there’s no right answer!
One way to 100% the game is to get every single DIY recipe card possible, not counting DLC and extra Amiibo packs. Another (probably easier) route is to complete each section of the Critterpedia and finish your museum donations; this still has its challenges, based on availability of critters throughout the year.
Here’s a full list of ideas you could consider for 100% completion:
- Completing the Critterpedia: insects, fish, and sea animals.
- Completing your donations of fossils, sea animals, fish, and insects to the museum.
- Collecting all the real art pieces and statues from Redd, including the haunted versions.
- Collecting all the DIY recipes. (Remember: You can get these by talking to villagers while they are at their DIY table in their homes; popping balloons; finding washed-up bottles on the shoreline; and just randomly from villagers.)
- Buying the “royal crown” headwear from the Able Sisters shop for 1,200,000 bells.
- Collecting all the seasonal DIY recipes (e.g., Bunny Day, fall mush-recipes, etc.).
5. Remodel Your House (and Your Villagers’ Homes)
Did you know the latest update allows you to remodel any villager’s home both internally and externally with ANY furniture for just 10,000 bells each?
Sure, that seems like a lot when you take into consideration nine villagers, equalling about 90,000 bells. But if you really want to make your island more cohesive, what better way than to have your homes match? (This is also a great way to see if you would enjoy downloading the Happy Home Paradise DLC.)
6. Redesign Your Island With Terraforming
This one seems like such an obvious solution at first glance. But terraforming can be daunting if you don’t know where to start or you wish to redo your entire island.
I’d highly recommend planning out your vision, or at least having a decent idea of what you want it to look like, before you get started. Once you’ve got that figured out, terraform in small sections so as to not overwhelm yourself or feel like you have to get it all done in a single day.
If you don’t know what to terraform, take a look at some of the theme ideas above or draw inspiration from your favorite worldly locations!
7. Go Island Hopping With Kapp’n To Discover Different Flora and Fauna
Did you know Kapp’n can bring you to islands that are in completely different seasons? This means you could end up on islands that are in the midst of winter while we’re in summer, giving you the chance to catch snowflakes or various winter-specific critters.
However, you have to pay Kapp’n 1,000 Nook miles for every trip, and you can only take one trip per day. So, be sure to take advantage of the island you land on!
Here are the different islands you could potentially land on:
- Cherry blossom island: where you can catch cherry blossom petals and the trees are still pink with cherry blossoms
- Winter island: where you can catch snowflakes and the trees are still decorated with Christmas lights and snow
- Autumn island: where mushrooms grow, you can catch fall leaves, and the trees will still give you acorns or pine cones when shaken
- Shooting star island: where the sky is filled with shooting stars and the rocks will give you star fragments
- Money tree island: where every tree is filled with money bags instead of fruit
- Crop island: where you can find one of six crops (tomatoes, wheat, potatoes, carrots, sugarcane, or pumpkins)
- Vine and glowing moss island: where you can find an abundance of vines growing on cliffs and glowing moss covering the island
8. Use Your Nook Miles Tickets To Discover Different Islands
While this one is similar to the Kapp’n tour in that you can discover new islands, there’s no limit to how many times you can use a Nook Miles ticket to explore somewhere new. A lot of ACNH players don’t know that you can land on one of ten different islands.
Similar to Kapp’n’s tour, this one will cost you 2,000 Nook Miles for every ticket you purchase. Here’s a list of the potential islands:
There are four variations of this island that will bear no fruit or have any special features to them. However, one island will have a large pond in the middle and another island will have a river flowing through it in the shape of a spiral.
Non-Native Fruit Island
As the name suggests, this island will yield fruit that is not native to your island. Even if you already have this fruit on your island, it’s a good idea to go ahead and farm this fruit as it will give you more bells than your native fruit would at Nook’s Cranny.
Money Rock Island
Similar to the money island via Kapp’n’s tours, every rock on this island will yield coins and money bags when hit. Be sure you know how to properly farm a rock to get all nine items!
This island only has bamboo trees instead of the usual oak trees given by other islands. Here, you can chop down trees to get all three types of bamboo, as well as bamboo shoots in the ground.
You should immediately know when you’ve landed on this island, as the island is a barren field with a large ring of water surrounding the middle. This is an effective way to catch a lot of tarantulas to sell (for 8,000 bells) at Nook’s Cranny.
However, you will only have the chance to land here if it is after 7pm on your island, and the odds are particularly low.
While this is a relatively normal island at first glance, you won’t be able to catch anything from the waters here except trash.
This island is extremely rare to land on but will give you an island with a large rectangular pond surrounded by flowers and either scorpions or tarantulas. Additionally, if you can figure out how to get to the tiny spot of island in the middle of it, the rock will give you eight gold nuggets.
9. Download the Happy Home Paradise DLC for More Content
Sometimes we find ourselves completely content with the way our island looks from top to bottom and front to back, but still long for some kind of change. If you’re still looking for something to do and don’t want to go about remodeling the majority of your island, consider buying the Happy Home Paradise DLC!
Through this additional content, players are able to pick and choose which villagers they want to create a “vacation home” for, and there’s no limit to the amount of homes you can create! You also get access to another small shop where you can purchase new furniture every day, boosting your odds to get something you may not have already. Plus, if you’re not happy with a home you’ve already created, or you’re more experienced than when you first began, you can always go back and remodel it!
10. Start From the Beginning!
I know, I know—this was the one answer you didn’t want to see on here. BUT, hear me out! If you truly feel like you have no reason or purpose to get back into Animal Crossing: New Horizons anymore, but you still long for the warmth it gave you, try starting the game over.
You can do this a few different ways:
- Hard reset your game on your console.
- Play on a friend or family member’s console and create a new island.
- Purchase a new ACNH cartridge or (less likely) a new Switch console.
- Play with a newbie ACNH friend and guide them through their experience.
- Clear and flatten your island from top to bottom (by moving villagers to beaches).
I hope these tips inspired at least one new way for you to jump back into Animal Crossing: New Horizons and rekindle your former love of the game!